The pace of life seems faster than ever. As Christians, we face increasing challenges in prioritizing our prayer life. How can we navigate the complexities of life with faithfulness in prayer? How can we pray when we are so busy?
I have tried to practice a simple, practical, and memorable routine. This isn’t the same as making it short or easy. I’m after effective and repeatable. You can scale this up or down based on time. Someone can repeat this throughout the day with more Scripture. The goal is to blend Scripture reading with prayer and meditation. And to do so in a way that makes the prayer “sticky.” In other words, I want the practice to be something I can recall in the evening before bed. Do I remember what passage I thought about in the morning? Do I remember what I prayed about? This is the test. And over months and years, this has the compound effect of a life shaped by the Word.
The acronym I use is ICGP. (Although something this short doesn’t really require an acronym, I like I Covet Godly Prayer.)
Since the pace of the world is not slowing down, we must build regular rhythms of prayer into our lives.
I – Instruction
What does the text teach or require? Is there something commanded? Is there something modeled that reflects what God has prescribed elsewhere in the Bible? Sometimes it’s straightforward, for example, the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20). Other times, it may be referenced on the way to a parable or narrative (Luke 18:9). It could be shown through the course of the story (Luke 19:28–40). If you can answer what God expects or requires from people here, then you are on the right track.
Example: Colossians 3:17: And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
This is pretty straightforward: God requires that everything we do should be done for the glory of God—with gratitude.
C – Confession
How have I failed to do this? What are the specific attitudes and actions where I fall short? Identify these and confess them to the Lord.
G – Gospel Gratitude
Think about the gospel—all that Jesus has done on our behalf to bring us to God. In what specific way(s) has Christ succeeded where you have failed? How does his victory affect your particular sins?
In this case, you might recall the life of Christ’s obedience. He always did what was pleasing to his Father (John 8:29). He never tired of doing his Father’s will (John 4:34)—it was his delight (Psalm 40:6–8; Hebrews 10:5–7). This fills our hearts with praise! How can we be anything but grateful for the one who took our place and succeeded in every place we failed, securing our righteousness and earning our place in God’s kingdom?
[When I think of the gospel, I want to think about Christ’s incarnation (life of obedience), substitutionary death, resurrection, ascension, rule, return, and eternal kingdom. Wrapping all this in helps me see how Christ’s victorious work answers my sin—even as a Christian.]
P – Petition
This is a prayer to obey this passage. In light of all God has done for us, pray that you would do what God’s Word commands. Admit weakness. Plead for grace. Cling to promises. Seek. Knock. Ask.
This is it. ICGP. Try adding this to your devotional life, especially if you are busy, and see how it goes. My experience is that provides helpful scaffolding for our prayers. It keeps us on track, tethered to God’s Word and clinging to the gospel. I pray it’s helpful.
Some suggestions for you to get started:
- Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9–13)
- The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1–17)
- The imperatives of Romans 12, Colossians 3, or Ephesians 4–5
- The prayers of the Psalmist, especially Psalm 119
Readers of Luther’s: A Simple Way to Pray will see his influence here. Other acronyms like ACTS are also quite helpful.